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Sarah Natuccini reprises the voice of Ash Ketchum in Pokémon

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Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage

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Sarah Natuccini, 35, has been the voice of Ash Ketchum since booking the job at age 18, after The Pokémon Company acquired 4Kids TV for the English dub of the series in 2006. Ash, who probably needs no introduction, is an iconic fictional character that existed 25 years as the main protagonist of Pokémon. Along with Pikachu, Misty, Brock, and plenty of other companions along the way, the character has grown up with his fans as he experiences the hero’s journey to becoming a Pokémon Master. Now that the Japanese series has officially announced Ash as the winner of the Pokémon Coronation World Series’ Master Eight tournament, he’ll wrap up his story once and for all in the final 11 episodes of the Ultimate Journey series. Such as Two new champions Trying to tackle a challenge that took Ash 25 years to complete, Natochenny looks back on her own Pokémon journey. “In my twenties, I really struggled with depression and realized I could honestly play a character who is so happy and lucky and so positive and so stubborn and gets through hard things with such positivity,” she tells Vulture. Ahead, Natochenny talks about growing up with the franchise, when she found out Ash won, and what Pokémon she’d name as her next pet.

What was your relationship with Pokemon when you were younger? Were you a big fan?
The show came out when I was 11 years old and I’ve been a huge fan right off the bat. And by the time I booked it on the 18th, I was watching the show. When I finally got to audition, I was shocked that the audition was at such an early stage in my career, and it was just a classic audition process. I didn’t know anyone associated with it.

Did you have a favorite Pokemon before you became Ash?
11-year-old Sarah … what did she like? I do not remember. I remember the love of Pikachu. I’ve always loved Pikachu. Perhaps the greatest animated creature ever drawn.

Do you have another Pokemon that you identify with? Or does it resonate more with Pikachu?
She has voiced 21 of the Pokémon in the show [and] My favorite is Ponyri. I love voicing Chancey, and aside from that, I love Miltan – voiced by Samantha Cooper. she’s amazing. And I love Snorlax, Psyduck, Mew, and Mewtwo. I love them all. They are all my children.

I saw on Tiktok that you named your cat Pikachu.
My cat is now called Pikachu. It’s not an intended impression of Ikue Ōtani who plays Pikachu, but it looks a lot like Pikachu. I talked to my cat all day in Pikachu’s voice, if you end up in an apartment with the two of us.

If you had to name another pet after a Pokémon, which Pokémon would you choose?
This is a really unique question. It will definitely be another Pokemon. Oh! raycusa. [Points to imaginary dog.] This is my dog ​​Rayquaza. I kind of like the sound of that.

What was the most memorable fan reaction?
The one that really stands out to me is this girl who really opened up to me about her struggles with depression, and that really bonded us together. She visits me occasionally when I’m in her town and lets me know how she is. Pokémon have really helped her overcome a lot of hardships in her life, and that’s a common story. This is the most common thing I see in my fan mail, “Thank you for getting through these tough times,” “You made it through the pandemic,” “You made it through this hard time, I was suicidal, and I made it through.” that “. Knowing that I am even the smallest part of something helps people in this way, especially as someone struggling with themselves. This is incredibly useful for me.

Photo: Pokémon Official YouTube Channel / YouTube

When you found out Ash won the Pokémon League, did you know it was coming? Did they prep you, or was it a surprise when you got the text?
I haven’t seen the text yet. I did not know. We didn’t register [the English version] after. In this season’s recording of Masters TripsI definitely felt like a fan of stories in general, books and movies, I get that this feels like the culmination of a story. My mind went to “There is no way this could be! I can think of a million different ways Ash could go on.” But the best way is what Pokémon did in the end, which was to end Ash’s story. They do a nice job at it Masters Trips who roll it So I felt it.

When they told me the news definitively, the shock still hit me, and I was very sad. I had to turn this sadness into something positive and see how this can be good for Pokemon and the fans and just be open to this new journey they are going to take us on. And trust Pokémon, the people who brought us 25 years of characters like Ash Ketchum and all his friends and these great storylines, can deliver a new series.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about playing Ash?
In my twenties, I really struggled with depression and I know I could play a character in all honesty, a very happy, very positive, very stubborn character. Knowing I could do it, realistically, I knew there must be something in me like Ashes. So I’ve drawn on it over the years and it’s really helped me.

I grew up with Pokémon and used to pretend to be Togepi so much that it became my family nickname growing up. They still call me Tujibi.
Oh my God, cute.

It’s amazing how much animation can affect a person.
Yes, it’s incredible. I hear it a lot, and I feel like playing it. I do not believe that.

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